Cora Shahid, "The Key is to Explore!"
Our story began on May 30th 2004 when we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby. Immediately following the delivery, I heard my husband ask the doctor, "Is it a boy or a girl?” She replied "A BOY!" Our entire family rejoiced! We now had a daughter and a son. That day was full of excitement and joy. The following day we received news that would forever change our entire family’s life.
On the second day of our son’s life a nurse walked into our hospital room, sat in a chair and told us that our baby referred on the Newborn Hearing screen and we would need to come back in 1 week for a follow up screen. I asked what does that mean and how could that be? She assured me that this is common for newborns due to fluid. The Pediatrician also assured us that there could be fluid in the ears and not to worry. But how can two parents not worry about their newborn baby?
While we were at home waiting for our sons follow up appointment we had days where we knew that the test was wrong and that the next test would show typical hearing, but we also other days where we cried, we were scared and worried. When we returned for his follow up hearing test he was 3 weeks old his results were the same. The Nurse then set up an appointment for the ABR a week later. During the ABR our son would occasionally fidget, so I thought to myself, Oh, he hears. After 1 1/2 hours of testing the audiologist sat down with my husband and I to gently inform us that our baby boy does indeed have a bilateral moderate to severe hearing loss. Although we had a few weeks to get used to the idea that our son may not hear we were still in shock. The audiologist explained sensorinueral hearing loss and our sons hearing level, yet we still felt lost and wished that we had more information to take home in our hands and a way to reach out to another parent. How many other families have Deaf or Hard of Hearing children in my city/state? Where are they? Where do we get more information?
The baby I mention above is now 9 years old! As I write this I am amazed at how fast time fly’s! He has a deaf brother who is 3 years old and a hearing sister who is 21 years old! Although the first days and weeks were emotional and wonderful, I am grateful for and celebrate all three of my children just the way they are! Perfect!
We have met so many incredible people that have supported our family and shared their story/suggestions along the way. Some of their suggestions fit our family, while others did not. And that is ok! There is so much support that will surround your family too, some of it you will need to reach out for, but it’s out there! Our deaf sons have done everything that our hearing daughter has done; play on community soccer/baseball teams, dance, rides bikes, have a ton of friends, tells great jokes, swim, fight with their siblings, sing in chorus, participate in Scouts, bring me flowers from our garden, tell me they love me, read, have play dates/sleep overs etc.
Each and every step of the way is a new branch to the tree of raising a deaf or hard of hearing child and just like with life, you are never finished learning all there is to know about raising a happy, successful, independent deaf or hard of hearing child. Your son/daughter can do anything with your support!
I have often been asked what advice do I think is most valuable to give to a new parent and one of them that I always mention is Education! Educate yourself!
You will receive a lot of suggestions (opinions) from family, friends, different professionals, parents of DHH children, DHH adults, and even strangers! Think about each suggestion very carefully. Will it work for Your child and your family? It might! And it might not.
There are many ways to educate yourself, and here are just a few.
* Meet DHH adults & families with DHH children (Who use a variety of means to communicate)
* Attend conferences / workshops / panels / webinars
* Know your rights and your child’s rights. And remember, YOU are your child's best advocate!
* Ask your Early Start teacher for resources to explore & opportunities to meet other families.
*Join parent groups in your City/State (online, e-news, face to face etc.)
* Attend public events for DHH families, Deaf adults, etc.
* Join a variety of Social online groups. (There are so many!)
* Read books written by DHH adults, Parents and Professionals
* Join as many Statewide/National Organizations as you can. Many of them offer a free membership to parents of newly identified Deaf or Hard of Hearing children.
The list could go on and on…The Key is to Explore!
Get out there and do and touch as much as you can! At the end of the day you, your child and entire family will truly blessed and benefit from all of these experiences. And most importantly, remember, your child is a child first! Play, laugh, and have fun together.
I look forward to the next opportunity to learn and with peer parents. If you have any questions or you just want to chat please feel free to contact me at any time! My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will it be Easy? Not always!
Will it be worth it? Totally!!!!